The Problem with Ice Buckets

The Problem with Ice Buckets

By now, just about everyone has heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  It’s a great fund raising idea, and who doesn’t want to help eliminate ALS?  I mean, it affects millions of Americans, has been a plague on humanity since at least Lou Gehrig had it, and who doesn’t want to stop this terrible disease?

I am certainly not going to cast aspersions on the ALS or the Ice Bucket Challenge.  The ALS Association has raised four times as much money this year as they SPENT last year, mainly thanks to social media.  That’s wonderful.  It is a terrible disease.  My problem is with the idea that you should get something out of charity:  attention on social media, a name on a building, lots of accolades, you name it.  The idea that, if you are charitable, you should be recognized.

ice-bucket-challenge problem als
But doing charitable works TO BE recognized is not charity.  I am glad the ALSA is doing well.  But the people who take the Ice Bucket instead of donating really aren’t helping.  They film themselves taking a bucket of cold icy water to the noggin, and dance around like it’s freezing, and it’s all over in 5 seconds.  Voila!  They’ve done something and now they get attention.  Some even send the $100 anyway.  Some of these folks even know what ALS stands for!  (My opening line for this blog is taken from people I know who have taken the ALS IBC, and no, none of them knew what ALS stood for, and yes, they think it affects millions of Americans).

Charity, and the accolades that go with it, should require effort, and thoughtfulness.  Giving money is easy, getting a frosty cold shower is even easier, and more fun.  But if you want to participate in true charity, go volunteer your TIME to a cause you believe in.  Volunteer to answer phones, lick envelopes, talk to those who are sick and lonely, SOMETHING besides give money or dumping water on your head.  Go make a change for one person, one child, heck even on dog or cat.  Take some responsibility for helping humanity.  But most importantly, GO DO SOMETHING!

With the modern age of technology, and social media, everyone wants to be a part of something bigger.  They want adulation, attention, and to feel good about what they do.  But all that is just temporary gratification.  That is the problem with ice buckets.

Better yet, do something you believe in without expectation of adulation and attention.

–What do YOU do?


Patrick J. Bertroche